One State Down!
Hey everybody! As many of you know I started from Springer Mountain on last Saturday and what a wild ride it has been. I have already completed one state significantly faster than others, but still didn’t push myself too hard and knew what I could handle. The phrase that best represents these past few days is “Keep on truckin”. Some descriptions for some days might seem short or cut off but first is what I had in my journal and second is my recollection.
Here’s the rundown of how my first state went down!
Day 1: “Hiked Springer Mtn. to Gooch Gap Shelter. Did a total of 17 miles (extra mile walking up to Springer and back down) for my first day. I’m proud of myself. Sleeping in the shelter because of cold weather and met some cool older gentleman. Already heard two were quitting a Neels Gap. They think it’s crazy I did 17 miles today. Wait till they hear I do more than that tomorrow. CB”
So, the first day was really exciting and emotional, especially stepping on that first white blaze on Springer. I knew that I could cover some miles so I started from Springer at about 9:00 am. It’s surreal walking out there and I had to remind myself that I was walking on the AT haha. I met a guy named Jordan right before the shelter that had done about the same miles as me (turned out to hike all of GA with me) so we decided to try and push the same amount of miles together. I was not hungry at all the first day so all I had was a granola bar. There was a gentleman giving away free boxes of cigarettes and coffee at the shelter because he had brought too many of both! It got pretty cold the first night but I was ready to wake up and get started.
Day 2: “Hiked Gooch Gap Shelter to Swaim Gap. Did 18.5 miles. A hard day mentally for sure. Neels Gap was a good refreshment. Still hiking with my new buddy Jordan. 35.5 miles total. Still not hungry, but feeling great before bed. Tomorrow I am going to do over 20 miles.”
The second day was the hardest day for me all week. After walking so much, your mind starts to wander constantly and you start to ask yourself why in the heck you are still walking. was the first one out of the shelter at 6:45 am. I met a ultramarathoner named Kevin at the bottom of the mountain who gave me a gatorade and talked for a little while, which was a great morale boost. Blood Mountain to Neels Gap was the hardest section so far on my legs but I refueled at Neels Gap with a few sodas and a sandwich and pressed on. Camped in my favorite spot of the week, Swaim Gap. I could see the lights of Atlanta on the horizon and went to bed ready to push myself harder the next day.
Day 3: “Hiked Swaim Gap to Indian Grave Gap. 21.3 mile day!! Heck yes! Killed it. I am so whooped but in the sleeping bag at 6:30 pm. Getting up at 5 am and pushing. I’m ready to see good ole North Carolina. Blue Mountain was the hardest one yet. Tired and discouraged but ready to start walking again.”
Day 3 was not that hard for me physically. A large portion of it was flying up and down ridges (my favorite). This day my hunger was starting to kick in but I really did not want to eat anything that I had brought. Definitely decided to completely change my menu from now on. My favorite part of the day was laying in camp and mapping out that I had walked over 20 miles in Georgia in a day which I haven’t really heard of. Before today someone had said that anything over 17 miles in Georgia is “unrealistic”. It’s not unrealistic if you really want it haha.
Day 4: Indian Grave Gap to Plumorchard Shelter. Long day, tried to push 24 miles to NC but ended up only being able to do 19.5 because of heavy storm. Walked the last 7.5 miles in an absolute cold downpour. Buzzard Knob was brutal on my legs. I’m ready for NC and a change of scenery. Heard there is a huge storm coming in tomorrow so I’m getting up at 3 am and hiking 12 miles by 9 am to Deep Gap to catch a ride into Franklin, NC.
This day was going to be my biggest day yet for sure until it started downpouring and sleeting about 12 miles into the day. I had never heard of Buzzard Knob or Kelly’s Knob before but I think these two are the hardest ones in Georgia. I left camp at 5am and was on top of Tray Mountain at sunrise. I also threw up shortly after getting to the top because of the dinner I had eaten the night before. I got to talk to some cool folks at Tray Mountain Shelter that were just waking up. They were surprised I had made it there in barely over 3 days. By this time, my body has really started to adapt to the long miles and just keeps on moving. Most everyone I have talked to is hitching into Franklin to miss the big storm.
Day 5: Plumorchard Shelter to Deep Gap. Only slept about three hours but ready for some real food. Had couple mice run across me in the shelter during the night Left camp at 3:30 am and hit the NC line at 4:30! It’s a really amazing feeling to be crossing a state line already. Walking in the pitch dark with a headlamp for 3 and a half hours was very calming surprisingly. We made it down to Deep Gap to get picked up by my girlfriend but were sad to find out that the gate was closed on the road 5.5 miles down. She had to go back to class by 10am so we ran 5.5 miles down the forest service road with our packs on! We got there just in time to meet her! 17.5 miles done by 10 am is nuts haha. The Bojangles we got on the way into Franklin was the best I’ve ever had, I wish I could pack it in my pack for next week. Dropped Jordan (Gas Mask) off at a hotel and Franklin and drove back to Cullowhee for two zero days for the legs. Excited to jump back on it Saturday morning! I’ll be hiking five 12-mile days for recovery then kicking it back up to 20-milers.
Best and Worst of the Week
Pack Weight:37 pounds, I’m going to try and cut 10 pounds out it from now on since I now know what I don’t need.
Best Food Choice: Spam Single
Best View Personally: Swaim Gap sunset on Night 2
What I craved: Bojanges chicken biscuits and Sprite
Worst Food Choice: Tuna Packets (They get old)
Hardest mile: Kelly’s Knob
Hardest Mental Time: The hike down into Neels Gap where 25% quit
Friends Met: Jordan (Gas Mask) , Kevin the ultramarathoner, Jim from Oregon,Bill from Ohio, The guys from Gooch Gap from Illinois, the older gentleman from Bryson City.
Cool Moments: Hearing machine guns from Army training and screech owls the first night.
Bible Verse of the Week: Isaiah 52:7. It really kept me going all week!
I’m so excited to get back on the trail after some rest and see what NC has to offer! Thank you all for the encouragement and kind words. God Bless
Caleb Bonner (No trail name yet even though someone told me some people were calling me Wild Man lol)
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